In pursuit of the common good; the American Founders and unanimity
An editorial in the Washington Examiner Friday ran under the headline “Conservatives must rediscover federalism.” When I read it, I had a feeling of déjà vu harkening back to the Reagan days of “New Federalism” when I was research director of the Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations (ACIR).
By Lawrence A. Hunter, Ph..D.
An unhealthy tendency arose during the 20th Century to equate representative democracy, what America’s Founding Fathers called a Republic, with majority rule — to equate the “will of a majority” with the “public interest,” the “public good,” the “will of the people,” the “common good” or the “national interest.” The Founding Fathers certainly did not subscribe to any such equation. Indeed, one of James Madison's major intellectual contributions to political economy and practical constitutional design was his effort to distinguish between the “will of a majority” and the “will of the people.”
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New Federalism, Old Illusions
Lawrence A. Hunter, Ph.D
June 26, 2009
I had come to ACIR from the Senate Intergovernmental Relations Subcommittee on Capitol Hill at the behest of the Commission’s chairman Bob Hawkins. Hawkins at that time also was chairman of the Institute for Contemporary Studies, an early think tank founded in 1974 by Ed Meese and other Reagan associates intent on building an intellectual foundation beneath what later was characterized as “The Reagan Revolution.”
An Intellectual Crisis In American Federalism
By Dr. Lawrence Hunter and Ronald J. Oakerson
May 27, 2009
Generations of students have been taught that the Supreme Court of the United States is the great umpire of the American political system, an impartial referee policing the boundaries of authority between institutions of government and between government and the individual. The role of the Court, as commonly understood, is to protect against an improper and unconstitutional exercise of power by any institution of government vis-a-vis any other institution or individual, including the actions of both federal and state governments in relation to one another. Yet from 1936 to 1976, the Court did not overturn a single act of Congress for encroaching unduly upon
the powers of the states. Read More...
Totalitarianism In Democracy; Tyranny By Committee
Lawrence A. Hunter Ph.D.
July 23, 2008
Princeton University professor emeritus Sheldon Wolin, viewed by many scholars as one of the deans of American political theorists and widely recognized as a liberal, argues in his recently published book Democracy Incorporatedthat the United States has evolved into a new political hybrid in which economic and state powers are conjoined and virtually unbridled, producing what he calls “inverted totalitarianism.” Wolin states the thesis of his book this way:
"It is possible for a form of totalitarianism, different from the classical one, to evolve from a putatively 'strong democracy' instead of a 'failed one.'"
Wolin, Sheldon S., Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism
, Princeton, Princeton University Press, 2008... Read More...